The Old Honors Thesis

I found a draft of my Honors Thesis while cleaning out a cupboard. The thesis submitted for my political science undergraduate degree when I was 23 was proudly titled “Institutions, Gaiatsu and the Politics of Market Liberalisation in Japan”.

It proclaims the research focus as “understanding the conditions under which gaiatsu  (specifically foreign pressure from the US) will have a greater impact in shaping domestic policy outcomes”.

  • “Putnam’s framework of 2-level games is used as a reference for this study… where a negotiator in international negotiations must deal simultaneously with counterparts at the international level (Level 1) and constituents at the domestic level (Level 2)…However, Putnam assumes that the domestic is a unitary whole… the 2-level game framework also does not address the dynamics of interaction between the domestic political constituents and international counterparts and the conditions under which these interactions operate”. [WOW, who was I to critique Robert Putnam like that??]
  • “The practical application in examining policy changes in the rice and telecommunications sectors will take the form of a time-series analysis”. [Do NOT ask me what the hell is a time-series analysis. Actually, I’m not sure whether I had even grasp its real meaning then.]
  • “It recognizes that all states lie at the confluence of international and domestic pressures and that domestic politics can be affected by external events. This has the effect of altering existing power configurations consequently affecting the process of policy making”. [Ooooo, new insight, I bet.]
  • “A theoretical implication of this study will be its contribution to the debate on the future role and sustainability of the “developmental” state….A practical application of this study is to question whether Japan can actually change without gaiatsu”. [Great plans I had.]

And now for the last sentence in the thesis.

  • “Relying on past behavior of reactivity is risky. Policies and institutions must adapt to changing circumstances, motivated from within, not without”.

Re-reading it 9 years on at the ripe age of 32, I can’t help but marvel (and cringe) at my 23-year-old naivety, idealism and the verbose writing mode with those too-big-for-my-mouth words.

But I’m proud of it. That 64-page binder. Prouder still that I managed to break out from that verbose mode for the most important bit in the Acknowledgment Page with a dedication to my friends written in the simplest and plainest words:

“To Ms F, Ms.F and Ms.A, Thank you for coffee, companionship and constructive criticism”



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